The state’s high school dual credit program is saving technical school graduates thousands of dollars in student loans.
That’s according a three-year analysis of dual enrollment in four technical institutions in South Dakota.
The analysis was presented during the state Board of Technical Education meeting on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Legislators will likely cite information from the report and use the results to determine how much funding will be appropriated to the program in the future.
Scott DesLauriers, Board of Technical Education deputy director, said the analysis will hopefully justify a growth in spending toward the dual enrollment program, but it’ll be a tough sell to legislators concerned with decreasing tuition payments.
The population analyzed is comprised of 3,732 first-time students who attended Mitchell Technical Institute, Western Dakota Technical Institute, Southeast Technical Institute or Lake Area Technical Institute from 2015 through 2017.
Legislators approved creating the program in 2014, enabling high school juniors and seniors to enroll in a course offered by a post secondary institution. The cost per credit this year is $48.33.
DesLauriers noted several key takeaways from the analysis:
- Students were more likely to accrue dual enrollment credits in high school if at least one of their parents or guardians attended college.
- Students eligible for Federal Pell Grants were less likely to attend a postsecondary institution with incoming credits in comparison to their peers who were ineligible for the federal grant funds.
- Students entering a postsecondary institution with 3 to 11.5 credits had an average ACT score of 20, compared to their peers who had 2.5 credits or fewer and averaged an ACT score of 18. Students with 12 or more credits scored the highest average ACT score of 21.
- Students entering a postsecondary institution with 0.5 or more credits were more likely to complete a degree in a normal time range.
- Students with more than three credits had lower average total student loan amounts at time of degree completion than their peers who had 2.5 or less credits.
High school guidance counselors will be provided the analysis to help guide students in a more intentional way, DesLauriers told board members.
One concern that legislators may have is that the credits earned through the program can be used toward degree programs in other states.
Overall, the program has helped lower how much students take out in student loans to complete their associates or three-year degree in South Dakota. The program also gives students the confidence in their ability to continue their education after high school, especially for those who are the first generation in their family to earn a degree.
Future changes to the program may include capping the number of credits a student can complete before entering into a postsecondary institution and limiting certain credit courses to high school seniors only.
DesLauriers said legislators are going to review the analysis on Oct. 25, which will be one of the main sources of information lawmakers will use to determine the program’s funding amount.